Dear Readers,

In the final days of the war of 1967, when the Arab nations were banded against Israel, a group of soldiers had finally reached the Kotel, the holiest site in Judaism, and place of the first and second Temple.

Many of the soldiers came from religious and traditional backgrounds, and stood in awe, crying that the Kotel had been liberated. One soldier from a secular background watched and then also began to cry. A religious soldier who often debated with him approached and asked, “I don’t understand, to us the Kotel is everything! But why do you cry?”

The soldier answered simply, “Ani bocheh al mah sheani lo bocheh! ‘I am crying over the fact that I am not crying!’ I watch you and see your deep connection, and I cry because I sense that I am missing that.”

There are countless stories where something was kindled within a “non-observant” Jew to wake him up to his faith and traditions. But why? What causes such a reaction?

The dictionary defines faith as “a strong belief in G‑d or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” Meaning, “a person of faith” is someone who keeps to the doctrines of that religion, usually due to fear or conditioning.

Judaism looks at faith, or emunah, completely differently, which explains why even someone who doesn’t act as “a believer” can still have deep faith.

Faith, according to Judaism is based on two things:

1) Our soul experienced G‑d firsthand before descending to this world.

Before descending to this world, our soul experienced an infinite G‑dly revelation. This revelation is a part of our essential selves, and its impression is indelible. Moreover, since this revelation was infinite, when we tap into it, we have access to unlimited powers.

2) Faith is intrinsic to what our soul is.

Chassidic thought teaches that our soul is an actual part of G‑d, “breathed” into our being. This is an essential part of us. This means that not only was our soul granted an infinite revelation, which would imply a “G‑d and us” or “You and me” relationship, but that we have an actual part of G‑d within each of us.

So faith is something deep within us. Irrespective of our understanding or our behavior, no matter how we dress or how many mitzvot we keep, faith is a part of who we are. Whether or not we act with this awareness, each one of us is eternally connected to G‑d. We may not be aware of it or it may be buried, but our connection is accessible, waiting for us to activate it.

So faith, according to Judaism, is really about allowing our soul to experience what it remembers and what it essentially is. Faith is that dimension of ourselves that helps us to be in touch with our true reality.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW